Monday, October 5, 2015

Inventory Management Is Crucial To Your Business

Peter Pishko, VP of Operations at One Step Retail Solutions

Friday, October 2, 2015

How To Engage Retail Customers Begins With A Wow Moment

08 | 16 | 15            
retail customer service sales training
For retail customers to let down their guard, share their desires, and get over their fears of purchasing, you must get them involved...

10 Tips That Can Drastically Improve Your Website's User Experience

            Written by Darling Jiminez                     

In today’s changing marketing landscape, your website has become a more powerful tool than ever. As a 24/7 salesman, your website has the potential to be your most powerful asset and the centerpiece of your marketing efforts.
However, rapidly changing technology can make your website feel old and outdated. While sometimes a redesign might be ideal, you may not have the time or money to invest in such a large project. If you're one of the folks that falls into this boat, we have put together a list of 10 simple ways you can improve your website to make it more helpful and useful. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Retail Metrics: Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) – Days of Supply

By Scott Kreisberg
CEO, One Step Retail Solutions

Previously, I’ve talked about Retail Metrics and the importance of Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) in running your business. What does that really mean anyway? Some of you new to the retail business might not have a clue as to what constitutes a “Key Performance Indicator”. Some of us old timers who’ve been around the block a few times, might not know what they are either or may just need to brush up on retailer lingo. Either way, I want to really delve into what things you can look at to help navigate your aircraft, so to speak, like an airplane pilot would.

Flying a plane is a good parallel to managing a store. How does a pilot know what to do when? What tells him when it’s time to raise the plane to a higher altitude? What gauges tell him to lower her down a bit? How do they know when it’s okay to add on more cargo? What tells the pilot to toss some cargo overboard? When do they know to just keep flying along and not change a thing?
A retailer makes decisions all the time to best navigate the constant change of consumer buying habits. Doing this actually consists of five critical decisions on any given item in stock in order to keep costs down and profits high. These are:
  • Mark the item up?
  • Mark it down?
  • Buy more of it?
  • Buy less?
  • Don’t change anything about it?
Well, the answer to these million dollar questions lies in the treasure trove of information provided by your store’s KPI’s. Just like a pilot, a retailer must know his KPI’s and how to address them, as well or better than a pilot needs to know how to read and interpret the gauges that indicate what should be done next. As a retailer, your KPI’s will tell you what to do next; it’s just a matter of being able to read what those indicators are trying to tell you and put that information into practical use in the store.

Let’s take a look at what I consider to be the five most important retail KPI’s that you can get from your point of sale (POS) software program. We’re talking about Days of Supply, Turn, Stock to Sales Ratio, Sell Through Percentage and Gross Margin Return on Investment. The last one is the most important indicator. We all want to know how much money a particular item will bring back in revenue. But, the Gross Margin Return on Investment is also the most tricky one to manage and know how to use in managing inventory.

Days of Supply

In this article we are going to start with Days of Supply… What does that really mean anyway? We hear this term thrown around all the time, but not all of us really know what this actually is or what it means. Simply put, Days of Supply means how long it will take you to sell out of your present stock, assuming that sales continue at the same rate as recent sales have been. This is weighed against a time frame, like 30, 60 or 90 days. Days of Supply is a great statistic to use for predicting the future. It’s kind of like having a real crystal ball right on your desk. The information contained in this report/statistic lays it all out in a clean and concise way of telling you how much longer it will take to sell a particular piece of merchandise based on what’s been happening sales-wise in your store. It’s like a sign post that points you in the exact direction you need to go in.

For example, you have 1000 t-shirts and over the last 30 days you’ve sold 250 of them. Based on how many have been sold over the last 30 days, it will take another 90 days to sell the remaining 750 t-shirts. So, for these 1000 pieces of inventory, the Days of Supply equals 120 days.
In essence, Days of Supply analyzes the last period of sales and based upon that rate, gives you the amount of days left to sell off the remaining merchandise. But how far back do you go? Let’s take non-seasonal merchandise which sells at a relatively steady rate; for this you could use a longer basis period, such as 30 or 60 days. Then for seasonal merchandise, the rate of sale changes rapidly, and you would want to use a shorter period, a week or even a day in some cases. Interestingly enough, different parts of the country have different length seasons. For instance, New York has really short bathing suit season, about two months and that’s it.

Putting this information into practical use, you would then want to make sure Days of Supply on a certain item matches up with the lead time to restock it. You don’t ever want to run into the problem of having Days of Supply be less than the time it will take to get the items in. In that case, you would miss out on sales because the sell-out and restock time frames did not overlap. Instead, you ran out of an item before the shipment came in to restock it. This can have bad effects on overall sales in the store, too, if the item you are out of stock on is a hot seller at a critical time of year or you lose customer loyalty because you’re out of stock on something. Your goal here is to reduce your Days of Supply to match the lead times without losing sales, plain and simple.

And your point of sale system is where you should be able to get this information and statistical data to manage your inventory. Make sure your POS is giving you this information so you actually can better manage Days of Supply. If your POS isn’t giving you that information, you should think about investing in a system that will give you the information you need to better manage your inventory because in retail, profit is all about inventory and the expert management of it.

In my next article I’m going to cover inventory and lots of little tidbits about it, what you can do with it when it’s not selling and how to increase profits by better managing your inventory.

Monday, September 28, 2015

4 Ways to Revamp Your Rolling Display Racks

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4 ways to revamp your rolling display racks
Chances are you have a few rolling display racks in your store. Some retailers use them to arrange merchandise in the store itself, while others use their racks to sort dressing room leftovers or sort through new SKUs in the backroom.

Regardless of how you use your rolling racks, wouldn't you rather they be a dynamic part of your establishment rather than just a boring fixture? Here are four ways that you can improve your usage of rolling racks in your store.

1. Create a mobile sale section
There's probably a section of your store dedicated to sales merchandise, but if you're hosting a special seasonal clearance, you can present the marked-down SKUs prominently using a rolling rack. Place the rack in your window or at the right-front of your store, as this is the first place that consumers usually look when they enter an establishment. You'll draw people in and hopefully entice them to buy with your low prices.
Optimize storage with rack shelves. Optimize storage with rack shelves.

2. Upgrade your Z-Rolling rack
If you have a few of Firefly's stackable Z-Rolling racks in your store, you can upgrade them with the new bottom shelf add-on. Now in addition to hanging garments, you can optimize your storage by placing boxes, crates or baskets on the bottom shelf of your rolling rack. This can be helpful for use in your backroom or on the sales floor! If you're using the rack in your store, why not set out a few pairs of shoes that complement the garments you hang on the rack? Smart display tactics can help increase your customers' impulse purchases.

3. Fill a boring corner
When you're rearranging your merchandise, you may end up with some empty corners in your store. You can cover up areas that are under construction with a strategically placed rolling rack. Arrange the rack diagonally across the corner you want to mask, then load it up with some great SKUs. Your customers will be distracted by the merchandise and won't notice that the corner behind it is less-than-polished.

4. Make an outdoor display
How's your store's curb appeal? You need to have something eye-catching in front of your establishment if you're going to entice people to stop in.

A rolling rack is the perfect tool for creating a display outside your doors. You can simply roll it out in the morning and bring it back in at closing. Just make sure your employees know to keep an eye on any merchandise so passersby don't carry anything off without paying.

To view the original article please visit: Firefly Solutions

Thursday, September 24, 2015

How to turn a profit during your summer clearance event

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How to turn a profit during your summer clearance event
When the temperatures are dropping and the leaves are starting to fall, it can only mean one thing. Summer, a favorite season for many people, is drawing to a close. As a retailer, this means you have some assessing to do: How did your summer merchandise sell? How much back stock do you have? Can items be sold full-price next year? Or should you set up a summer clearance event?
Many stores choose to sell their seasonal SKUs for a reduced price during a summer's end event. While this will be popular with your customers, it's important that you still make money on the leftover merchandise. Here are a few tips that will help you make a profit during your clearance event. 
Discount intelligently
Sometimes your merchandise isn't selling the way you anticipated because the price isn't right for your shoppers. Maybe a competitor is offering a similar product at a lower price or customers can find the goods online. When you have a surplus of seasonal items to get rid of, you may be tempted to slash the prices and hope for the best. However, your end-of-season sale should employ carefully researched prices. 
"Research ideal price ranges for your products."
Try to figure out what your customers are willing to pay for your sale items. For example, you may have priced a specialty beach towel at $20, but consumers are only willing to pay $15. Use this information to mark down your goods. Cut the price back to what shoppers want to spend - or a little further if you have a large inventory to move. 
While this strategy will likely take some time and research to successfully implement, it will ensure that your margins are as large as possible and that your end-of-quarter sales are as close to your goal as they can be. 
Employ psychological pricing
If you've never read up on the tricks of pricing merchandise, now is a good time! Research has shown that certain pricing tactics will encourage more sales. Here are two that you can use during your summer clearance:
  • The left-digit effect: People read left to right, so you want the left digits of price tags to be as low as possible. In the minds of consumers, something priced as $19.99 is a much better deal than an item that's $20. It's just a one cent difference, but the mind trick can encourage shoppers to be a little looser with their purse strings. 
  • Magic No. 9: For some reason, consumers really like prices that end in nine. Whether it's $0.99 or $99, people are more apt to pick up products with this digit in the tag. Use this to your advantage – lower your $40 items to $39 and watch them fly out of your display cases
Bundle summer jewelry to boost sales. Bundle summer jewelry to boost sales.

Try bundling items
Another smart discounting strategy is bundling complementary items. This is a great option if you have a lot of leftover summer gear – instead of selling beach bags and towels separately, you can lump them together to make the purchase more appealing to customers.

Using this method, you can often clear out two types of merchandise with one sale! Rather than buying a pair of flip-flops for a discount, your shoppers will leave with shoes and a new hat. This will put a significant dent in your back stock while bringing in the most money for your store.

However, the key to bundling is to offer an option to buy each piece separately. Forbes magazine explained that shoppers view bundles less favorably when purchasing both items is their only option. Keep this in mind as you create pairing strategies.

To view the original article please visit:

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

2015 Emmys Fashion Highlights

The 67th annual Primetime Emmy Awards took place on Sunday, September 20th in Los Angeles, California. It was a night of glitz and glamour with all of the stars dressed to impress, but it was a memorable evening for making history as well. Below are some of our favorite highlights from the event. 

On Sunday night, the star of  How to Get Away with Murder, Viola Davis, became the first African-American woman to win an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. She gave a gracious and inspirational speech and in case you missed it you can view it here:
                                                                                    Photo cred: LaineyGossip
Peter Dinklage won award for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama for his role in Game of Thrones. He has done an amazing job and definitely brought his own charisma and personality to Tyrion that no one else could. I think many people can agree that he is virtually the main character of the show. 
                                                         Photo cred:
Uzo Abuda, well known for her role in Orange is the new Black, won the award for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama. She has done an outstanding job portraying the complex character, Crazy Eyes, while wowing the crowds in her pink halter by Jonathan Cohen.
                                                     Photo cred:
A huge congrats to all of the nominees and winners from the 67th Emmys and thank you for continually expanding your artistic talents in the entertainment industry.  We salute you all!
While the awards ceremony was ground breaking one of our favorite parts about the Emmy's is the red carpet fashion, we picked out some of our favorite pieces and designers.
Sofia Vergara showed up looking gorgeous as usual in this figure stunning, sweet shimmery St. John dress.
Photo cred:
 January Jones pulled off this stylish green Ulyana Sergeenko with no effort. It's a refreshing color to wear during the current LA heat and we love the gold start accessory.
Photo cred:
Ariel Winter wore a beautiful fitted red Romona Keveza gown that stole glances throughout the evening.
Wow, it feels like just yesterday she was a preteen on Modern Family and now she's all grown up. Boy how time flies!
                                                                 Photo cred:
The Orange is the New Black star Laura Prepon looked mesmerizing in her Christian Siriano
dress that included intricate gold details that dazzled!
Photo cred:
Those are our highlights of the evening, let us know what your favorite moments and outfits were! 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Customer Experience for the Future: Context is King


context is king
Every job exists thanks to customer funding. As Peter Drucker said, “The customer is the foundation of a business, and keeps it in existence.” And as Dr. Deming said, “What everyone in a company does can be reduced to one of two functions: to serve the customer or serve someone who does.”  But how many employees in your organization see their job this way? And how many managerial decisions respect these truths?
In the future, companies that treat customer experience excellence as the context for everyone’s roles, thinking, and actions will outpace their competitors in success. Context is one of five success factors described in my recent article, Customer Experience for the Future: 5 Keys. Context is defined as “the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed”. Customer experience excellence as context for every job means that it is always top-of-mind as the primary basis for the way we do our jobs.
In the mainstream we’ve come to think of customer experience management (CXM) as a way to get customers to do things for us: engage in social media, recommend us, renew their purchase, and expand their purchase. But this may not be the most appropriate definition of customer experience management.
As a customer yourself, you know that your experience with a company is much more than what you do about it in social media, recommending, renewing, or expanding your purchases. You know that your experience is as much – or more — about the product working as expected, right the first time and every time – as it is about your purchasing and social interactions.
The responsibility for CXM is largely assigned to marketing, sales and service – exempting most of the company from a customer-oriented mindset. Many employees see their work as a right in and of itself, with logic such as:
  • “Every company needs an accounts receivable function, so my job is to receive payment as early and often as possible so our books look good.”
  • “As a corporate lawyer, my job is to protect the company from risks.”
  • “On the manufacturing line, my job is to produce product according to our deadlines.”
  • “In engineering, my job is to design products better and faster than our competitors do.”
  • “In marketing/sales/service, my job is to maximize revenue before month-end, every month.”
  • “In customer experience management, my job is to maximize our index (e.g. NPS) scores.”

Think of the wasted energy caused by every job having its own reason for existence. This mindset is the basis for organizational silos. And we all know the headaches caused by siloed efforts, data, systems, processes, and politics.

Think of the synergies possible by creating a common rallying point for every job: we do our work so that customers will choose our company for their next purchases. If so, the new logic will be:
  • “Every customer needs to pay for what they buy, so my job in accounts receivable is to make that process as easy and nice as possible, helping customers want to pay our company.”
  • “As a corporate lawyer, my job is to help the company operate as smoothly as possible for customers’ long-term well-being.”
  • “On the manufacturing line, my job is to produce product that meets customers’ standards of quality and timeliness.”
  • “In engineering, my job is to design products that help customers achieve their goals through us better than through any other source.”
  • “In marketing/sales/service, my job is to sync my processes and communications to maximize customers’ inclination to buy more, and more often, from us.”
  • “In customer experience management, my job is to guide the company in preventing hassles for customers and in maximizing value to customers.”

As you can see from these examples, CXM is not something that customer-facing staff take care of. It’s much more than digital or content marketing or touch-point management. It’s much more than encounters, interactions, experiential events and processes, or case-specific resolution. You may think employees in your organization already think like the second list shown above. Test it. Ask a sampling of employees what their role is, and listen carefully for the word “customer”.

CXM is actually about centering everyone’s thinking on realities as customers see them, across their end-to-end process for selecting, getting and using the solutions they’re seeking.

Every manager, at every level and in every functional area, not only has fiduciary obligations and supervisory duties, but also responsibility for how decisions and deliverables contribute to customers’ propensity to buy and rebuy.

You may be wondering about the practicality of shifting everyone’s mindset to a customer orientation for their roles and responsibilities. Here are some practical ways to do it:
  • Capitalize on the fact that everyone wants their company to be well-liked.
  • Leverage related corporate values and objectives to help everyone see customer experience excellence as the context for the business’ success, and in turn, for their career success.
  • Show them how to re-write their job descriptions from this context.
  • Stream relevant customer comments, from any source, to each department on a regular basis.
  • Feature succinct customer experience stories (and not just testimonials) at every opportunity.
  • Give every department their own cut of voice-of-the-customer data, with analysis of patterns, and show them how to create action plans that prevent recurrence of issues.
  • Weave accountability for engagement in customer experience improvement and innovation into existing routines and processes.
  • Begin every meeting and training session with the context of customer experience excellence.
  • Revise performance reviews and recognition and incentive programs with the context of customer experience excellence – and not based on a survey score, but rather, on something employees do as part of their roles and responsibilities.

Every job has a stewardship to customers’ well-being. If not, why fund it?

To view the original article please visit: Inside CXM

Are Your Users Responding? Easy Tips for Better Call-to-Action

— Posted By
Are Your Users Responding? Easy Tips for Better Call-to-Action            
As any marketer knows, there’s no point in creating something if it doesn’t have a purpose, and that purpose should aim to garner a response, and to garner that response, you a CTA (call to action).
But not all CTAs are created equal—and inferior CTAs are bound to get inferior responses.
Think of it this way: if you go to McDonald’s and don’t tell the cashier what you want, you’re bound to get ignored. Putting a marketing message out there without a CTA will have the same effect.
That call to action is the single most important element of your landing page—and beyond having one, there’s a science to having the right one. After all, internet marketers have proved time after time that even small tweaks to the CTA can change the bottom-line response.
Without further ado, here are the ten things you need to keep in mind to create stronger CTAs that increase your ROI and results:

1. Be Direct

Simply put, don’t beat around the bush. Tell your audience exactly what it is that you want and what it is that they’ll get. Guesswork is only bound to get you lesser results.
Want them to download a report? Tell them that.
Want them to click on a link for a free quote? Great—be direct about it.
How you include those actions (link vs. button etc.) is a story for another time—we’ll get there. For now, be direct. The end.
For example, the landing page at Kissmetrics is straightforward and easy for the customer to understand what step they need to take next.

2. Include an Action Word

Your CTA requires your reader to take some action so let them know what it is.
Do they need to click a button? Visit your site? Complete a form? Purchase something by a certain date?
Each of these suggestions involves them doing something aka, taking an action. So be clear about what that action is.
For example, the landing page at Bear CSS includes a large button reading "Upload HTML" as their action.

3. Provoke Emotion

No one likes listening to a monotone; it's boring. Your writing needs to convey a tone, and that tone should carry through to your CTA.
Do they need to do something within 24 hours? Convey that urgency in your CTA’s wording or through punctuation (think bold type, exclamation points, etc.).
Are there limited quantities available? Same thing.
You get the idea—use timely words, font variations and punctuation—there are many ways to show (and provoke) emotion in your CTAs.
For example, the landing page at uses a range of font sizes and graphics to encourage emotion in the website visitor.

4. Include Unique Selling Point

No matter how unique your offering may be, the odds are that there’s something else at least similar out there, so what makes yours different? Use your CTA as a way to make your offering stand out from the competition.
This is critical to securing the response you need from your audience. Better yet, make that unique selling point relatable to your reader.
Why do they care? How does completing your CTA benefit them? Make sure this is evident.

5. Use Numbers

Marketers have proven time and time again that using numbers in CTAs returns better results. No, that doesn’t mean complicating things or making your readers do some math.
Simple is best.
Quantify a time limit or a number of items left in stock. Numbers make things memorable while also adding impact—so use them.

6. Create Urgency

This one is a bit of a theme that carries through our other tips for more effective calls to action. People by nature have a tendency to procrastinate, putting a deadline on something makes someone more likely to resolve it immediately.

7. Use Contrasting Colors

There are few ways to make a CTA less impactful than letting it blend into the rest of the copy. Yes, text-relevant links are good—but don’t miss the opportunity to call your CTA out boldly and that means using visual cues.
Having contrasting color is a great way to draw your reader’s eye—so use it.
For example, the landing page at Web Hosting Secret Revealed uses a bright blue and yellow to draw the reader's eye to the eBook and the "Download eBook" button.

8. Position Your CTA in the Right Spot

People have a tendency to scan something before they commit to fully reading it and even with that, minds are typically made up before someone hits the scroll button. So keep your CTA above the fold. Generally speaking, CTAs placed in sidebars don’t do as well as those above the fold in the main copy block.

9. Always A/B Test Your CTA

Number eight segways perfectly into this one. Just because something worked for someone else, it doesn’t mean that the same rule of thumb applies to you. Always A/B test to find your unique patterns and success triggers. There are different software options out there that makes doing this easy.


10. "FREE" Is the King of CTA

People love a good giveaway, so if you’re offering something free, lead with that message. Better yet, pair the promo with one (or several) of the above CTA enhancement tips.
The one caveat to this rule is email—spam filters are commonly wary of the “f” word—so if you’re sending out something via email, consider using an alternate word, or leaving "free" to other media (such as online content or print materials).
For example, the landing page at Copy Blogger includes "Free" in its title and registration button. 
There are many ways to increase your ROI through improved calls to action.
Main takeaway: continue to play with your CTA methodology to find what works for you. Remember to keep your “ask” clear and direct and, above all, make sure that it communicates to the reader what they will “get out of it.”
Remember the old “five W's” (who, what, where, when, why… plus how)?
Your goal should be to answer as many of those questions—in as few words as possible, and in an enticing way for your call to action. Do it well and your ROI will increase dramatically.

To view the original article please visit:

Thursday, September 17, 2015

5 Proven Ways to Increase the Average Order Value of Your Ecommerce Store

by Corey Ferreira

5 Proven Ways to Increase the Average Order Value of Your Ecommerce Store        
average order value
You launch your store, you've been marketing it, you're selling a few products and eventually, you notice something. Nearly all of your orders average out to the same, low amount. Your customers checkout with the same quantity of products and the same order total every time.
Your store starts to look like it's plateauing and your revenue begins to look the same every month. One remedy is to get more traffic and thus, more orders on your website. But for some store owners, that can mean more work and more spending.
Alternatively, and sometimes a better option, is to get your customers to checkout with more products in their cart.
In this blog post, I’m going to share five actionable strategies that can help increase the average order value of your store and get your customers to checkout with larger carts.


First, What Is an Average Order Value?

Your store’s average order value is the average amount of money each customer ends up spending per transaction. You can calculate your average order value using this simple formula:
Total revenue / number of orders = average order value
For instance, if your store’s total revenue of $1700 was split between 100 orders, your average order value would be $17. You can also find helpful apps to calculate this for you in the Shopify App Store.
To increase your average order value, you’ll need to convince customers to add more items to their cart before checking out. Let’s talk about how you can encourage that.

1. Product Recommendations

Occasionally, customers are so focused on buying one of your products that they neglect to browse around to find more. This leads to smaller carts, and as a result, smaller average order values.
To help solve this problem, try adding product recommendations to your product or checkout page. By profiling popular products, or products that other customers purchased in addition to what’s currently in the user’s cart, you can not only minimize friction before checkout, but also increase average order values.
To illustrate this point, here’s Barberry Coast pairing the aftershave balm in my cart with a sample pack of other scents. This is a great technique, especially if I wind up liking a new scent and decide to order more down the road.
cart product recommendations
via Barberry Coast
Consider using phrasing on your website such as “Complete the look” (for fashion and apparel websites) or “Customers also bought” when suggesting more products for your customers.
Check out the App Store to add the product recommendation feature seen above.


2. Display Relevant Accessories or Complementary Products

Much like the previous strategy, this tip involves adding product suggestions to your product page. In this case, instead of simply suggesting other popular items from your store, try hand-picking products that pair well with the item in the user’s cart, such as accessories or add-ons. For example, a mouse for a laptop, or batteries for a remote control.
ecommerce cross-selling
via Product Upsell
This is essentially cross-selling and upselling, which you can learn more about in our blog post about upselling and cross-selling.
Check out the Shopify App Store to find apps to help you do this easily in your store.

3. Set Order Minimums for Coupon/Free Shipping/Free Gift

Increasing your average order value can also be accomplished by providing an incentive when customers spend a minimum amount on your store. Consider setting a minimum order amount for free shipping - it’s really easy to do within Shopify and very effective at raising average order values.
order minimum free shipping
via Mindzai
According to research from the University of Florida, the average order value for a store with “Free shipping for orders > $75” was $64.68 compared to an average order of $46.04 when that same store offered “Free shipping for everyone”.
free shipping average order value
Other examples of minimum order incentives are offering a coupon or free gift when your customer meets the purchase amount threshold. For example, giving a 15% discount on orders over $75 or a free t-shirt on all orders over $100.
Be sure to also use a promotion bar on your website to make it obvious that you’re offering a minimum order incentive.
If you want to start setting up order minimum incentives, you can do so easily within Shopify or use an app from the Shopify App Store.

4. Set up a Loyalty Program

If your store sells consumable products (something customers need to re-purchase, like razors or shaving cream), consider setting up a rewards or loyalty program. Loyalty programs act as a retention strategy and help forge relationships between customers and a brand, as well as helping you increase the average order value of your store.
loyalty rewards program
via Mr Hardy's Gentlemen's Emporium
When there’s an incentive for your customers to earn points under your loyalty program, you can expect to see your average order value increase significantly. Sweet Tooth found that stores that add rewards for orders 15%-20% above the store’s average can get customers to spend more.
It might seem counter-intuitive to offer a program that provides discounts (which cuts into your revenue) but a study from the Center for Retail Management from Northwestern University, according to BigDoor, found that loyal customers can make up to 70% of total sales. Additionally, a survey by TechnologyAdvice found that customers are more likely to shop at stores that offer loyalty programs.
Creating a loyalty program for your store is easier than you might expect. Check out the Shopify App Store to find great apps that can help.

5. Bundle Products or Create Packages

If you want customers to checkout with more items, try creating product bundles that cost less than if the same items were purchased individually. By bundling products, you're effectively increasing the perceived transaction value. This is the satisfaction customers get from taking advantage of a deal and according to a study done by the Faculty of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, this can help increase sales.
For example, recommend another complementary product and offer a discount at checkout like SafeSleeve does with their laptop and smartphone cases.
product bundles
via SafeSleeve
You can also empower your customers to create their own bundles by allowing for custom products or packages that let customers choose which features or add-ons they want in their order.
For example, Endeavour allows their customers to build their own surfboard and choose additional features, customizations and add-ons that increase the order total.
custom product bundles
via Endeavour
This also works for custom bundles, allowing your customer to choose which products or accessories they want in their package before checkout. For example, allowing customers to build their own first aid kit or allowing customers to build their own makeup kit. Instead of selling the components of these kits individually, encourage your customers to create their own bundle and thus increase your average order value.
If you’re interested in adding product bundles or custom bundles to your store, check out the Shopify App Store.


Now it’s your turn. You only need to implement one of these strategies to start noticing an increase in the average order value of your store. Again, check the Shopify App Store to quickly start applying these strategies to your store.
If you have any questions about increasing your store’s average order value or have feedback regarding this blog post, leave a comment below. I engage and respond to everyone.
To view the original article please visit: Shopify

5 ways companies can conquer customer satisfaction

Image: Bertrand Lepautremat/Corbis
This article is part of DBA, a series on Mashable about running a business that features insights from leaders in entrepreneurship, venture capital and management.

When Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, joined the online shoe and clothing retailer, he wasn't even into shoes. He was, however, passionate about customer service, and he believed in wowing customers.
Hsieh brought new meaning to customer support and demonstrated that successful companies bake customer satisfaction into the company culture. He's instilled in his employees that customer support is more than just responding to customer problems or answering the phone at a call center. "We believe that customer service shouldn't be just a department; it should be the entire company," Hsieh said.

Zappos influenced Code42's approach because we believe the shoe company is realizing the belief that customer support is a cornerstone of success. It's just as important (and possibly more important) than engineering, sales and marketing

At our company, for example, a new employee spends a week with the customer support team, shadowing our Customer Champions and understanding how integral customer satisfaction is to Code42's success. While it may be tempting to focus primarily on product and marketing, adopting a customer-first mindset early is a strategic advantage for your business. Here are five tips on how to put the customer first.


1. Create an in-house customer support team

happy office
Image: Flickr, Glen Wright
Many companies outsource customer service overseas to save money. But outsourcing to a third-party team means you lose ownership of the valuable information that the customer is calling or emailing about. With a local support team, your company maintains greater visibility into the customer experience and you can use that insight to influence the product roadmap. By outsourcing, you may be missing out on valuable information and opportunities to build relationships.


2. Bake customer support into every job description

Solving customer problems isn't isolated to the support team. Often times, issues have to be addressed by the sales, product or engineering teams directly, which means your entire company has to operate with a customer-first mentality.
Real-time collaboration among disparate teams is key to solving customer problems. For instance, if you can't quickly fix a problem with a software patch, then teams can communicate and agree whether or not to add it to the product roadmap as something to fix in the next version.
Consider support early in product roadmap planning. Focusing on elements like quality assurance and great documentation during the development cycle can also reduce your support costs. While simply building great products doesn't replace customer support, it cuts down on back-end issues by investing in a quality product.


3. Turn customers who love your company into advocates


Image: Mashable Composite, iStock/Fanatic Studio
You know your company has high customer satisfaction when customers are advocating on your behalf. Many companies measure their customer success based on Net Promoter Score, but try looking at more qualitative measurements, as well. Customer advocacy — when customers speak about the value of the product, attend user conferences and volunteer for case studies — demonstrates just how happy your customers are. Additionally, there's a growing number of customer advocacy tools — we use TechValidate and Influitive — that help you engage your customer and harness and amplify their passion for your company and its products.


4. Don't try to build your own customer support tools

Early on, you might be developing a tool for everything from inventory management to human resources, but don’t try creating your own customer support software. Trust me, I speak from experience.
We learned the hard way about "core versus chore." If it's not one of your core capabilities, it's a chore for you to try to build out on your own. Investing in the right software will reap immeasurable rewards in the end, and it'll save you a lot of time and money in the process.


5. Do the right thing

For consumer-facing companies, it's often an emotionally charged moment when customers contact support with a problem. We had a customer whose entire semester of college work was wiped from her computer. When her mother called our customer support line on her behalf, we helped her recover the lost documents remotely. Ultimately, it was critically important that the customer support rep approached the process with empathy for the frustration she was experiencing at the time.

For enterprise companies, customers want to talk to someone who knows their account inside and out — what it's like to work there, what the technology landscape looks like, etc. The customer support representative should feel like he or she is a member of the customer's team, so if a challenge arises, the customer trusts the support team to handle the situation.

Creating a strong customer support team and centering company culture on customer satisfaction does more than lead to high customer retention and renewal rates. In fact, it could lead to your next round of funding — it did for us. A sincere dedication to putting the customer first isn't always easy, but it does go a long way.

To view the original article please visit: Mashable

6 Foundational Ecommerce Marketing Tactics to Stop Your Bucket from Leaking

by Richard Lazazzera 
6 Foundational Ecommerce Marketing Tactics to Stop Your Bucket from Leaking
As an online store owner, you’re always on the lookout for new ways to drive traffic, but how many times have you invested time, energy and money into a new method of driving traffic only to receive low conversions or maybe even none at all? 
Facebook Ads, Google Adwords, SEO, blogging, social media and guest posting are all great methods to drive traffic, unfortunately, most of the time they don’t work as expected. There are lots of possible reasons for this, however, many times it's because you have a leaky bucket. A website that leaks visitors as fast as you can bring them in. 
In this post, you’ll learn six foundational marketing tactics that will greatly help convert visitors on your site, bring back qualified visitors that do end up leaving your site, and get the most amount of money from each of your customers, increasing your average order size. 
It's time to fix your leaky bucket.  

Your Online Store Is a Leaking Bucket

Think of your sales funnel or rather your ecommerce store as a bucket. You have to spend a lot of time, energy and effort to fill that bucket with water (traffic). The problem is, your bucket has holes in it. Big holes. So you keep spending money, burning energy and investing time to keep filling the bucket with water, but the water is pouring out of the holes almost as fast as you can fill it.

What Are Some of These Holes?

There are lots of holes and lots of reasons for these holes. Arguably, every ecommerce business has holes in their bucket. Some are just bigger than others or more prevalent. It can be poor product descriptions, crummy product photos, confusing navigation or maybe high shipping prices. However, many times visitors just weren't ready to purchase quite yet and you let them walk away. 

How an Ecommerce Sale Actually Happens

The reality is that most of the time consumers don't purchase the first time to your site. Many will require multiple touch points and nudges to convert them from a visitor to a customer, sometimes over the course of days or even weeks. However, without a few fundamental marketing tactics in place, a customer that leaves your site only has their own memory and experience to rely on to come back and make their purchase. 
By implementing several marketing tactics that some of the most successful ecommerce businesses use, you can significantly increase your chances of making a sale. Additionally, when visitors do fall out of your bucket, there's a greater chance you can bring the qualified people back in. 
Let’s take a look at one company that is executing these tactics flawlessly, DODOcase.

DODOcase - Website Walkthrough

DODOcase makes handcrafted iPad cases using traditional book binding techniques in San Francisco and were the winners of the Shopify Build A Business Contest in 2010. They obviously knew what they were doing then, and apparently still do.
DODOcase has a marketing strategy that plugs as many holes in their bucket as possible to get the best possible return-on-investment from their advertising dollars. Not only do they do several critical things to keep their visitors in the bucket, but they also implement several strategies to bring customers back that fall out of the bucket and to get the most out of every customer. 
Let’s take a walk through a purchase on their online store and highlight some of the key marketing activities they're doing well:
To start, there’s no doubt they have taken the time to develop a beautiful shop with great photography and product descriptions. All the usual conversion optimization tactics are being employed here, but let's see what else they're doing.

Let’s add a product to our cart and checkout. A DODOcase Folio for the iPad Air should do.
What’s this? An upsell suggesting several other products we may be interested in. Let’s add the the Leather Card and Case Wallet to the order.
Hmm, $220.24, that’s a little expensive right now. Maybe we will wait a bit to buy it. Let’s close this tab.
Wow, that’s a good deal. 10% off just for joining their email list. We will add our email. Maybe we will use the 10% discount later. 
24 hours later:
An email from DODOcase. Let’s see what they have to say:
The next day while browsing some info about the new iPhone, look what we see. A retargeting ad from DODOcase offering 20% off. That DODOcase is starting to look pretty tempting.
Another day later, while scrolling through Facebook we are hit again. Another reminder of the DODOcase we were looking at a few days prior, again with a 20% offer to come back and complete our purchase.
Ok, ok… after a few days and a few reminders we are ready to purchase, and hey, the 20% off discount is a great deal.
DODOcase's marketing doesn't end at the sale though. After making the purchase, we are hit with a referral offer. In this case, DODOcase offers customers $20 for every person they refer and the people that are referred will receive 15% off their first purchase.

So What Exactly Is DODOcase Doing Right?

As you can see from the short case study above, they're doing a lot of things right and have a pretty comprehensive marketing plan in place to make the most of all their traffic, paid and organic. They have implemented several key tactics to keep people in their bucket, to bring qualified visitors back, and to increase the average order size from customers.  
Let's take a look at each one in a little more detail: 
  1. Product Upsell - Upsells are important because they give you one last opportunity to present the customer with complimentary products that a.) they may be interested in, b.) might make their experience better (think batteries if they purchased something that doesn’t come with batteries) and c.) help increase your average order value. If that's not enough, one analyst for Forrester said that product recommendations (upsells) are responsible for an average of 10-30% of ecommerce site revenues.
  2. Newsletter Sign Up Popup - Upon trying to leave the site (exit intent), realizing you don’t want to purchase or aren’t ready to purchase, they display a last second, secondary call-to-action. In this case they try to get you to sign up to their newsletter while also providing you with 10% off in the hope that the 10% will sway you over to completing a purchase with them. Although it's important to note that popup signups to some people are considered annoying, in almost every study they convert higher, many times 100%+ better than standard signup forms embedded on your site. The emails collected from a popup can be instrumental in bringing back visitors and don't forget, emails is consistently rated as the best marketing channel for return-on-investment.  
  3. Abandoned Cart Email - Abandoned cart emails are vital in ecommerce. An average of 68% of people abandon their carts. These are people that had enough interest to browse your products and add items to their cart. They completed the first step of the checkout but decided to abandon their carts at that point. Abandoned cart emails give you an opportunity to bring that customer back to complete their transaction while it's still fresh in their minds.
  4. Adwords Retargeting - The next day DODOcase began retargeting with display ads on the Google Display Ads network. Retargeting helps reinforce your brand and serve as a reminder to your recent site visitors of your products. In this particular case, DODOcase offered 20% to come back. Retargeting ads have proven to be much more effective than traditional online ads. In fact, in one study web site visitors who were retargeted with display ads were 70% more likely to convert.
  5. Facebook Retargeting - Again, several days later, they began retargeting on Facebook with the same 20% off deal. Combined with the Adwords retargeting, and they were unavoidable if you had an internet connection. 
  6. Referral Offer - Upon completing an order, DODOcase offers their customer $20 credit for referring friends in addition to giving all referrals 15% off their first purchase. Referral marketing is incredible important as it represents the perfect opportunity to get your most recent and happy customers to talk about you. Study after study has come to the same conclusion, that people trust and purchase products more from a friend recommendation than any other form of marketing. In fact, according to Neilsen, people are four times more likely to purchase a product when referred by a friend. 

How Can You Plug the Holes?

The six marketing tactics discussed above make for a rock solid foundation for your ecommerce business and help you plug some of the biggest holes, leaving you and your site, much more prepared for paid and organic traffic alike. 
To begin implementing these tactics yourself, we have rounded up some incredible Shopify Apps to help you get started right away:


Building an ecommerce business is no small task. The "if you build it, they will come" notion does not apply. It's takes a lot of hard work and many times, money to drive targeted and consistent traffic to your online store. That's why it's vital that you have a solid foundation in place to make sure you're making the most from every visitor you do drive to your site.

Implementing even a few of the suggested methods above can have a dramatic effect on your return-on-investment and overall business success, leaving you with a bucket of cash as oppose to a bucket full of holes.
To view the original article please visit: Shopify